The first cruise ships of the season are scheduled to arrive in Lerwick Harbour on Wednesday – with 1,850 tourists on board.
The Saga Sapphire and the Magellan will be the first arrivals among 48 scheduled visits this year. Lerwick Port Authority hopes that will pave the way for 2016 to be a record year.
En route from Andalnes, Norway, to Torshavn, Faroe, Saga Sapphire will anchor in the deep-water port as part of a 12-nights Nordic Eclipse cruise. Magellan will also anchor on her way from Invergordon to Reykjavik, Iceland, on a 12-nights Solar Eclipse maiden cruise. The vessels are 200 and 222 metres long, respectively.
There are 48 arrivals – including six maiden visits– scheduled by end-of-season on 10th September, with a cumulative gross tonnage of 1,446,291 tonnes and an estimated 34,330 passengers.
May and June will be the busiest months, with 11 and 12 calls respectively. There will be two vessels on six days during the summer and three on a single day in May.
Harbourmaster Calum Grains said: “Fewer large vessels this year mean no new records, but, encouragingly, both 2015 and 2016 programmes include return visits and first-time calls, and advance bookings for next season are already very positive, with the real potential to be a record-breaker.”
Bookings for 2016 add up to a record 51,950 passengers, with the 50 ships a record-breaking cumulative tonnage of 2,113,009 gross tonnes.
The record held by Costa Pacifica (114,288 gross tonnes) as the largest cruise ship to visit Lerwick should be broken three times next year – by Azura (115,055 gross tonnes) on 30th June; Celebrity Silhouette (122,210 gross tonnes) on 14th August; and Royal Princess (142,714 gross tonnes) on 11th September.
The port authority will continue its efforts to attract cruise ships to the isles by having a presence at the Cruise Scotland booth at Cruise Shipping Miami, a major industry event, this week.